Men’s jewelry is often the forgotten gift idea in comparison to the celtic jewelry for women. There are many reasons for this of course, women often have a far greater interest in style and beauty than the average male which is reflected in the frequency and expenditure on fashion and stylish accessories. Ranging from ornate claddagh rings and celtic wedding bands to everyday necessities such as earrings and bracelets, the design and promotion of contemporary jewelry is aimed far more at the female audience than their male counterparts.
Jewelry for men is often reserved for special events and occasions such as such as weddings, formal events, important business meetings. etc. This is often associated with men’s lack of interest in the design and sport jewelry. To the contrary, the evolution of men’s jewelry over time has often matched that of female’s jewelry with its own unique style and craftsmanship dating from the Bronze Age in Ireland.
Discovery of metal and the Bronze Age
The discovery of metal in combination with the evolution of ancient societies worldwide opened up the possibility of crafting decorative jewelry from precious metals such as gold, silver, bronze, copper, iron, and other available metals and alloys. The influence of the Celts in Irish society has been well documented since the Bronze Age and still resonates to this day. The Celts gave a high degree of importance to one’s appearance with adornment and style highly prized.
What set the Celts apart was their high degree craftsmanship, they excelled in creating intricate and exquisite pieces of celtic jewelry which are now widely available to view in museums throughout Ireland, the UK and continental Europe. Jewelry generally identified a individual’s social standing with the more elaborate and intricate the piece, the more influential the individual was in the community. In addition to the decoration or ornate design of a piece of jewelry, the type of metal used in its creation also indicated the status that person held in Celtic society with gold and silver often reserved for nobility and powerful chieftans.
Jewelry during the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages marked a divergence in the design of decoration of jewelry for men and women. Society was becoming ever more hierarchical during this period with men becoming the dominant sex and holding positions of power and influence. Decorative jewelry to define social standing often comprised of royal crowns, septres and special ornate brooches. For men, celtic rings were particularly important as they were a way of identifying your allegiances. They often came emblazoned with the symbol or crest of a particular family, used for sealing envelopes or for proud display during social occasions so everyone knew where everyone else’s loyalties laid.
The Middle Ages also marked the point at which jewelry became much more stylish and decorative. The addition of coloured stones such as gems were integrated for the first time with differing design and fashion became more important. Jewels were added to everything, from rings, belts and collars to pins, brooches, headpieces, cufflinks, tie pins, and buckles. With increasing trade between nations and continents, more exotic materials and gemstones became available from distant lands. As with the earlier Bronze Age, the upper classes also wore the most gold and silver, while the lower classes had to content themselves with pewter, bronze or copper.